Sunday, July 27, 2014

Parlangua (The Alligator Man)

Swamps have always been held in deep fear by people, and with good reason. A number of fearsome monsters and entities are said to lurk within the Louisiana swamps. Among these are the Rougarou, the Honey Island Swamp Monster, boo hags, ghosts, vampires, boo daddies, hairy hominids, giant alligators, enormous snakes, and reptilian humanoids. But there is one among them that is said to be truly hideous, an unnatural hybrid of man and alligator. The Cajuns know this monster as the Parlangua, the Alligator Man.

According to legend, the Parlangua (pronounced par-lann-gwah) is a reptilian humanoid that is half man and half alligator. It is said to stand up to ten feet in height, having an elongated snout filled with needle-sharp teeth and a tough hide covered in green scales, fingers and toes that end in black talons, glowing red eyes, and a long tail (which can be used as a weapon). Although alligators and all known crocodilians let out a hiss when angry, the Parlangua is said to have an extremely loud roar that reverberates through the swamps. This unnatural hybrid beast is said to possess superhuman strength and endurance, while the creature’s hide is reputed to be bulletproof. It is unknown if blades may pierce this monster’s defenses.

The Parlangua is said to reside in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. This area mainly consists of undeveloped woodlands, protected wildlife sanctuaries and wilderness areas, and swampland (with the exception of the nearby city of Alexandria). It is here that the legend started, with sightings going back to the 1970s (although sightings then and today are few and far between). None of them have been verified or recorded by means of photographs or film. It would seem that the Parlangua is mostly unsubstantiated rumors and an urban legend.
There are at least six different versions of how the Parlangua came into being, and some have more merit to them than others. It is said that a young couple drove off of a bridge during a foggy night during the 1960s. They became trapped in their vehicle as it began to sink into the water. They were then torn to pieces by ravenous alligators, one of which happened to be pregnant. When the eggs were laid and finally hatched, all of the babies came out normally…except for one. One was born a monster, one that has haunted the Louisiana swamps ever since.
Another legend tells of a circus freak that escaped her confinement and fled into the swamp. The swamplands became her dwelling place, where she hunted and foraged for food to survive. Gradually, she began to lose her mind from the extreme isolation. Eventually, she went completely insane. In a fit of delirium, she mated with a large alligator and became pregnant by it. When she gave birth, the thing that came out of her womb was half human and half reptile. The creature might’ve killed and devoured its mother, or she may have died from giving birth. Either way, she was the creature’s first meal.
Another story says that the Parlangua is the result of a biological mishap. Chemicals (from a human egg harvesting facility, it is said) were poured into the Red River (which is illegal, by the way), and these chemicals eventually drained and pooled around a nest of alligator eggs. This resulted in a mutation to at least one of the eggs, and the Parlangua was born as a result. Another story says that the Alligator Man is a secret military genetic experiment gone awry. This experiment escaped into the Louisiana swamps and thrived there, and is said to have been terrorizing the populace ever since.
There seem to be a couple of supernatural explanations for the Parlangua. The Parlangua may be a man, cursed by a Native American shaman or gypsies to permanently become a reptilian creature for his sins or wrongs committed against them, much like the Rugarou. Another legend says that a family of sadistic devil-worshippers once lived in the swamp. As a part of their rituals, they would sacrifice an alligator and wear pieces of its skin on their bodies. During the 1960s, a fire burned down the shack that they worshipped in (although whether this was just an accident or was done by an angry mob is not mentioned) during one of their rituals. It is said that the intense heat caused the alligator’s hide to fuse with the cult leader’s skin, branding him a monster for the rest of his life. In his shame, he ran into the waterlogged forests and lived like an animal. He would kill any trespassers in his domain and devour their flesh, much like the Algonquin legends of the Wendigo. Whether he is still alive or long since dead remains unknown.
Some of these origins may have something to them, but the others are just ludicrous. It may just be an urban legend, as it has not spread beyond the borders of Louisiana. But it is interesting to note that a band known as the Cahoots (it’s like an owl sneezing) released a song in 1983 called “Legend of the Parlangua.” This song tells the story of a young man who becomes lost in the swamps, and who is forced into a confrontation with the monster. The song itself was quite successful, and is still remembered to this day. But regardless of its doubtful origins, the people who live in the swamps still believe that this monster exists. They have continued to pass down this lore through oral traditions, from one generation to the next. This creature is a bogeyman to some, a made-up night terror to keep children from misbehaving. To others, the creature is a real-life monster that hungers and kills in the deep swamps. Regardless of what one chooses to believe, there may indeed be something monstrous in the deep, dark forests of the Louisiana swamps…


  1. Love the article. Keep up the good work.

  2. Saw photo of this creature on Beasts of the Bayou episode. Perfect original photo. However, I believe it is being misnamed. It is actually a Margoyle (water relation to Gargoyle). My spouse and I had an encounter with a Gargoyle in Colorado in 4/1986 - we survived and left the state the next morning, never to return. They exist, usually photos can't be taken because your are in a flight for your life.

  3. I live just a few miles north of Alexandria. I can tell you we have many a monster in the deep swamps and deep woods. I've lived, fished, hunted and rode horses in most of it and have seen some pretty terrifying things. The Parlangua being one of them and now I'm much more cautious than I used to be. Then you also have the legends of the Nightriders of Winn parish, the West and Kimbrell clans were well known for their occultish practices.